Friday, June 26, 2015

Week 324 Menu

Happy Friday everyone!  We survived our first week of summer without Grandma and Grandpa here.  We usually have a few rough days after school get out while we're getting into a schedule and convincing the kids that they have to do chores every day.  My almost six year old is convinced that we only have to do chores on Saturday.  I wish...

It's getting crazy hot here starting today.  Today will be 104 and tomorrow will be around 110!  Wow!  Thank goodness for A/C, splash parks, the river and ice cream!  And I'm glad that this isn't the normal summer temperature for June.  I think it's usually in the 90s.  Oh well...I'm trying to think of the heat like a sauna...soak it in!

Here's this week's menu even though the week is almost over...

Sunday:  grilled chicken salad with homemade ranch and baked tortilla strips

Monday:  chicken salad wraps

Tuesday:  easy

Wednesday:  taco bar (crockpot taco chicken, ground turkey w/homemade taco seasoning, my favorite quick salsa and all the other toppings)

Thursday:  Waikiki meatballs, broccoli, rice

Friday:  pizza

Saturday:  easy

What have you been making this week?  I'd love to hear what your summer dinners consist of.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Week 323 Menu and it's SUMMER finally!

Hi there!  It's finally officially summer at our house!  Our kids had their last day of school on Friday.  So, this is our first week of summer break!

My parents and little sis are here visiting this week, so it's made this week feel even more vacationish.  We've spent the week doing our usual run around to sports practices and games, swim team, scouts, activity days, grocery shopping, etc., but it's been way more fun with Grandma and Grandpa around.  They've been awesome about staying home and watching the little kids while I drive around like crazy.

We've also been doing fun summer things, like playing in the river, going to the splash pads, eating too much ice cream, cherry picking, hiking, and eating lots of yummy food!  It's been nice to see the kids be exhausted when we finally get home and only want to lay on the couch and read or play quietly.  And we're in full wear-your-swimsuit-all-the-time mode.  You never know when you'll get wet!

We've had lots yummy food this week.  Let's see if I can remember what we've had and what's been planned.

Sunday:  my parents arrived and ate steak fajitas with us

Monday:  we had pizza

Tuesday:  we grilled chicken salads (lettuce, tomato, avocado, black beans, grilled corn, marinated chicken, homemade ranch or cilantro/lime vinegrette, topped with crunchy tortilla strips (made like these homemade chips)

Wednesday:  the missionaries joined us for dinner, pulled pork sandwiches on pretzel buns topped with coleslaw, freshly picked ranier cherries, and lots of yummy desserts.

Thursday:  we're going to have spaghetti on noodles or spaghetti squash

Friday:  grill burgers and hot dogs

Saturday:  easy night

Sunday:  Father's Day, I should ask my hubby for his request, I guess.

How about you?  What have you been eating this week?  What are your plans for Father's Day dinner?

Friday, June 12, 2015

More Life Changes

Hi guys.  I'm feeling a little sentimental today.  It's the last day of school for my kiddos.  This day marks the end of another chapter of our move to Washington.

Today my baby girl finishes elementary school and is off to sixth grade in middle school.  Can't believe this is already happening.  She's so excited and I know she'll do great.

For my "big" boys, today is the last day at the elementary school they've been going to since we moved to Washington in January.  In August they'll go to another school (the one that we live within the boundaries of, but was too full to have the kids go there in January).

They're leaving behind lots of great friends and fabulous teachers.  This last half of the school year has been great for them and they've transitioned really well.  They already know a lot of people that they'll go to their new school with.  My kindergartener told me yesterday that he wants to stay at his old school.  (Heart-jerking for me...if that is even a word).

So, once again we're closing a door on something great and moving onto more new things.  Even though I won't miss having to

I was just thinking about some numbers this morning.  It's been...
  • 1 YEAR since we decided that we were most likely going to move away from New Mexico.
  • 10 months since we decided to move to Washington and started kinder, 3rd and 5th grade.
  • 6.5 months since we closed on the sale of our home and moved out of it.
  • 6 months since we very tearfully said goodbye to all our friends in New Mexico.
  • 5.5 months since we arrived in our new town in Washington.  
  • 5 months since we moved into our new home (and I still haven't painted anything...driving me crazy!)
I've blogged about all these changes along the way.  It's been a great place for me to write down my feelings and then move on.

The last five months have been busy, busy and full of challenges.  But we've definitely been blessed and things have been working out.  We've all stretched and grown meeting new people, making lots of new friends, trying new things, going to new places.  We'll just keep plugging forward and hopefully I won't end up on the wrong freeway/highway once a week anymore.  We're all missing our friends that we left though.

Looking to a summer full of fun...and chores, yardwork, basketball, soccer and swimming practices, vacations, hopefully some visiting guests and maybe a nap or too.  After summer, bring on 1st, 4th and 6th grade!


Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Cranberry Delight Trail Mix

This Cranberry Delight trail mix is a staple in my pantry and has been for a few years.  It's a wonderful mix of craisins, golden raisins, almonds, pepitas (pumpkin seeds) and sunflower seeds.  It's the perfect mix of sweet and salty.

Before we moved to Washington, we bought this trail mix at our local Smith's.  We have a Kroger family store here, Fred Meyer, but they don't carry this trail mix.  As soon as we moved here I started making our own.  I buy all the nuts and seeds from the bulk section at Winco.  I buy Craisins at Costco.  The golden raisins I buy either from the Winco bulk section or in a box.

Everyone in my family loves this trail mix, except my daughter, but her idea of trail mix is peanuts, pretzels and lots of m&ms.  My sons love helping me make it.  We get out our biggest bowl and start dumping and stirring.
I've played around with different combinations of salted and unsalted nuts.  My favorite is to use all unsalted nuts and seeds, except I make sure half of the sunflower seeds are salted.  If you do buy salted nuts from the bulk section, I suggest running it through a drainer (dry of course) to shake out the extra salt that settles at the bottom.

I love that this trail mix is healthy, gluten free (for those of you gluten free out there) and a great non-processed food (unless you count the craisins as processed...I don't know).  I usually have a bag of it ready for snacking at baseball games, for my husband's lunch and a healthy snack for me to eat on the go.

Cranberry Delight Trail Mix

printable recipe
  • golden raisins
  • craisins
  • almonds
  • sunflower seeds
  • pepitas
In a big mixing bowl add all nuts, seeds and fruit according to your preference. The more fruit you add the sweeter it will be. The more sunflower seeds the saltier it will be.

**I have played around with salted and unsalted nuts and seeds. My favorite is to use natural unsalted almonds, unsalted pepitas and then use half salted sunflower seeds and half unsalted. Play around with it according to your preference.

You might want to shake the nuts and seeds in a strainer to get the excess salt off that settles in the bottom of the package.  Otherwise it can be a little too salty.

Recipe source:  me!

I posted this picture on Instagram a couple of months ago on trail mix making day.


Thursday, June 4, 2015

Healthier Eating Update: 3 Weeks In

Hi guys!  Well, it's been a little more than three weeks since I decided to make some changes in how I eat so I can (hopefully) lower my cholesterol.
I tried to convince myself that these chocolate crinkles were "healthy" since they are made with canola oil instead of butter.
Here's a little update of how it's been going and what I've been doing.  I'm definitely not on a "diet" and I'm still eating some foods with cholesterol in them.  I'm just trying to eat better overall.  I've definitely had some good days and some bad days.

Here's the GOOD:

  • I eat oatmeal almost every day for breakfast.  I had been doing this couple of years and lost a bit of weight last year (but that might have been because we were working feverishly on finishing the remodeling project on our house).  I make 1/2 c. of quick oats with 1/2 c. water, 1/2 c. milk and top it with a little brown sugar, cranberries, raisins, and diced apple.  I had oatmeal at McDonald's when we were in Seattle recently and loved that it had cruncy apple in it.  
  • I've been trying to drink more water.  I've found that when I'm thirsty, I misinterpret it for a need to munch on something.
  • I've been brushing my teeth more and chewing gum to stop the snacking craving.  
  • I try to eat pretty cholesterol free for lunch.  My favorites are the quinoa and sweet potato salad that I posted yesterday.  I've seriously eaten it almost every day for three weeks.  Other favorites are egg while omelets made with lots of peppers, mushrooms and spinach.  I love natural peanut butter smeared on celery (I posted about this a few weeks ago). 
  • I've been eating less meat.  I've still been making pretty normal dinners for my family, but I've been eating less meat.
  • I've been eating less carbs.  I haven't had a piece of bread for three weeks.  I have had rolls and tortillas for sandwiches and tacos, but I've been eating less than normal.  We've been eating a lot of things in rolls and buns lately because we've had some kind of sport almost every night, and of course it's always at dinner time.
  • I've been eating a lot more fruit, especially blueberries (my favorite) for a snack.  We had some really yummy grapes the last week or so too.
  • I've been really trying to limit my butter intake.  I've had good days and bad days.  We always make a treat on Sunday and I have one, but I've been trying to only eat one instead of 4.  :)  
  • I've been eating less dairy and if I do eat dairy I try to eat options that have less than 10 mg per serving.  I'm still drinking skim milk, but sometimes I'll have water at dinner instead.  
  • I made salmon for the first time ever last week and my kids were surprised that it wasn't as bad as they thought it would be!  I grilled it and glazed it with teryaki sauce.   Looking forward to trying more recipes.  
  • When I do eat buttery sweets, the sugar and butter are almost too much for me.  I don't enjoy the buttery taste like I used to...probably because it tastes like guilt.  Ha!
  • My kids have been trying to eat better off and on.  They've all been asking me about calories and noticing serving sizes on snack foods and chip bags.  Plus, like I said...they ate salmon and didn't die or get sick like they thought they might.
Here's the BAD:
  • I lost a few pounds (when I used my calorie counter on my fitbit) and I gained a few pounds and lost them and gained them, etc..  I haven't been very careful with portion sizes and still stress snacked more than I should have.  Improvements to be made there for sure!
  • I love nuts and ate more than I should have.  Oops.
  • I stress eat a little bit more when I'm stressed (that was redundant, ha!) and when I have a lot to get done and not much time at home, which has been pretty much every day lately.  Weekends have been the hardest with everyone home and more people that need attention.  I've got to get things organized and figured out for summertime so I don't hide in the pantry and eat chocolate chips.  (They're "cholesterol free", ha!) 
  • I've found that a lot of unhealthy food don't have cholesterol in them, like chips for example.  But that doesn't mean that I should eat them.  I need to remember to look at the saturated and trans fat content too, not just cholesterol., for now, I'm working on a few things:
1.  Portion sizes.
2.  Having healthy snacks prepped.
3.  Limited sugar. I think I'm going to start making myself Crystal Light lemonade popsicles in my Zoku popsicle maker instead of going for a fudge bar out of the freezer on those hot days.  (It's supposed to be 98 on Sunday.  Help me.  I'm going to melt.)

Thanks friends for your support!  Your emails and comments have been so sweet.  And to my friends that I get to see and talk to in person, I appreciate you asking how it's going.  


Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Sweet Potato and Quinoa Salad

Hi guys!  I've been dying to tell you about this recipe since I made it for the first time three weeks ago.  I've made it three times already!  It's that good!

My sister-in-law texted me the recipe a few weeks ago.  Right after I tried it I texted her back to tell her how much I love it.  While I was eating it I wanted to call all my friends and tell them about it, so they can enjoy it too.  Then I remembered that is why I have a share my favorite things with all of you!
This dip is magical.  Let me tell you why...

I am not a fan of sweet potatoes, but the sweet potatoes in this salad are so yummy.  They don't have a strong taste and just blend right in with the rest of the salad.  I don't even notice that I'm eating sweet potatoes.

Now let me tell you about quinoa. I'm the only person in my family that has been eating quinoa.  No one else likes it.  Until now.  My husband is a huge fan of this dish.  He's a meat and potatoes kind of guy, so this says a lot!

This salad has only super healthy ingredients in it, which is great for my new heart-healthy way of trying to eat.  I have had it for lunch almost every day for three weeks.  And I'm still loving it.

I've eaten this salad three different ways.  I eat it scooped onto my plate with a fork.  I've eaten it inside a tortilla as a heart-heathier version of a taco.  And my favorite way is to eat it as a dip, scooped up onto a tortilla chip.  Lime tortilla chips are super yummy with this.
I made myself some lime tortilla chips, using my regular corn tortilla chip recipe, but sprinkled it with True Lime. Super yummy, very easy, much healthier and only takes 10 minutes.

The last time I made it, I added fresh corn that I grilled and cut off the cob and some black beans.  Yum!

Have I convinced you to try it?  You should, because like I said, it's magical!

Sweet Potato and Quinoa Salad

  • 1 c. uncooked quinoa
  • 1 medium sweet potato
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 3 T. minced green onion
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 T. lime juice
  • 1/4 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/4 c. cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 c. diced cherry tomatoes
  1. Combine quinoa with a large pinch of salt and 2 cups of water in a medium saucepan.
  2. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a gentle simmer.
  3. Cook, stirring occasionally until the grain is tender. Let cool slightly.
  4. Meanwhile, peel sweet potato and dice into 1/2 inch or smaller pieces.
  5. Cover with water in a medium saucepan, add a pinch of salt, and bring to a boil.
  6. Cook until tender, approximately 15 minutes. Drain well and cool slightly.
  7. Toss together the potato, quinoa, bell pepper, onion, avocado and cilantro.
  8. Whisk the olive oil, lime juice and chili powder together then toss the salad with the mixture.
  9. Taste and adjust salt and pepper seasonings. Garnish with cilantro and cherry tomatoes.
  10. Serve with tortilla chips, wrapped in a tortilla or eat it straight with a fork.
Thanks to my sister-in-law, Melinda and her friend, Kelly, for the recipe.  The recipe is adapted from this recipe from Taste and Tell.